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Photo credit: andyarthur

If you’d have told me 6 years ago that I would be a cloth diaper user, I’d have raised my eyebrows. If you would have said that I would be a happy Moon cup user, I would have told you that you were crazy. Had you told me that I would be a non-vaccinating natural mama using diet to prevent illness, I would have laughed in your face.

I’m so glad I’ve changed.

Green is popular. The media regularly reports stories of people doing their share to save the planet. Huge companies have jumped on board, creating special stickers for their “eco-friendly” products. And more and more people are buying organic foods.

That’s all well and good – everyone has to start somewhere. But what’s next? What happens after you’ve discovered that it’s much cheaper and better for your health to making cleaning products yourself? What’s the next step after you realize that recycling your waste doesn’t address the real problem: excess waste?

Socially acceptable green

Lets take a look at what’s considered normal for saving the planet and living a healthier life:

  • Recycling
  • Purchasing “green” products from stores
  • Buying organic packaged foods
  • Hybrid cars
  • Bio-degradable paper products

The reason that these methods are accepted by the masses is because they’re easy. They don’t require much change, in most cases, they just require more money. Big companies love that. People love that. Change is hard and this is an ok place to start.

But then, something happens to some people. They realize that they’re not really doing much. The only big change is how much more they’re spending on products than they used to.

Getting weird

Gradually a shift is made because they truly want to lessen their negative impact on this world. That’s when they become a little weird. Friends and family start making a few jokes about what their doing. But it’s ok, because their changes are making a difference for the planet (and their budgets).

When you get a little weird, people start doing things like:

  • Composting food waste
  • Hanging their laundry to dry
  • Making their own cleaners
  • Using cloth diapers
  • Cooking food from scratch using organic ingredients
  • Driving less and using public transit, walking or bicycling

And then, for some of us, there comes a moment when you realize that there’s so much more you could do. There’s still too much waste, too much money spent on gas. You start researching and find other families doing crazy things out of their convictions to become more sustainable. And, after you think about it a little bit, you think that maybe they aren’t so crazy after all. Maybe it’s worth a try.

The point of no return

And that’s when you stop being a little weird and turn into a crazy hippie lady (or dude). You’ll know it’s happened when you do or consider doing:

Selling the car(s) – In lots of places this is totally doable and transportation can be accomplished by walking, bicycling, public transit or borrowing a car when you need to drive far distances.

Elimination communication – Who needs diapers? Countries all over the world don’t use diapers, instead, their babies learn how to use the toilet as tiny infants.

Handwashing dishes – Why isn’t this just a little weird? Because when I tell people that we use our dishwasher as a drying rack and only run it twice a month to prevent water buildup, they look at me as if I’m crazy. Just try it sometime, there’s plenty of time for thinking and reflection because nobody wants to bother you. 😉

Turning off your water heater – Making sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees and then turning it off in the late morning will drastically reduce the amount of electricity you use. Turn it back on before bed if you need to shower in the morning or just do it when you wake up so there’s hot water for those dishes. This lowered our electric bill a ton.

Family cloth – Cloth wipes instead of toilet paper. Yep, most people are disgusted at this and I’ve only tried it a few times. Dirties are placed in a special pail (or the cloth diaper pail). If you think it’s unsanitary, hospitals routinely reuse all of their linens, which have far nastier things on them than urine or poo. Pour some vinegar and a little Bac-out in the wash if you’re really worried.

Proactive healthcare – We’ve done this by paying special attention to what we eat, which I believe is the number one way to prevent illness. Our immune systems are strong because we eat immune-boosting foods and herbs, avoid immune-suppressing sugar and expose ourselves to small amounts of foreign germs on a regular basis. This is our well-baby care.

Zero-waste – It’s hard to recycle when you have nothing to recycle. Composting food scraps, using reusable…everything and shopping with your own bags and containers makes it pretty easy to quickly cut back on waste. Bea Johnson is SO good at this and eagerly shares her ideas at her website, Zero Waste Home.

Don’t worry, you can be a little weird in some places and a crazy hippie lady in others. I’m just glad you’re being intentional about what you do. 🙂

Where do you fall on the spectrum?